Here’s an entry for Chuck Wendig’s flash fiction challenge. (Yes, I know, I haven’t posted since the last challenge. Shut up.)
This weeks challenge was to generate a random cocktail and use the name as our title. Mine was Iguana #2, obviously. I dutifully drank this while writing.
And without further ado, here is Iguana #2.
Charles ducked around the corner to hide in a darkened alleyway. The dark wouldn’t protect him much, but it did, at least, make him feel a little better. He relaxed his muscles and willed his body to be a little colder. They would be to his alley in a few seconds and if he was extremely lucky, they would pass him by.
He wasn’t lucky.
He felt the Chameleon Soldiers surround him. They were cloaked, so he had no idea how many were around, but he knew there were more than he could expect to fight. He dropped his rifle and raised his hands in the air.
“Charles Larret,” said the shimmering bricks of the building beside him.
“That’s me,” he said, turning toward the voice.
“We have orders to take you alive,” it began.
“I figured as much,” Charles cut in. “So just take me, I’m done fighting.”
It was odd for him to say those words. It felt like he’d been fighting them his whole life. Reality was, he’d only been fighting them for about a decade, since the breach at Rowan Labs.
Scientists there had been working for years to “elevate” other animals to human levels of intelligence. They failed miserably. In case after case, almost no cognitive function was observed. The subjects were functionally brain dead. They failed in every case, except one. There was an iguana, early in the testing, that showed cognitive function, despite its test-mates all being brain dead. Throughout all the tests that were put on it, the iguana learned. The scientists were hopeful, thinking that it could even surpass human intelligence. One day, however, it disappeared. A short search was organized, but since it had escaped in the middle of winter, it was assumed dead.
Rowan Labs was shut down a short while after that. All hope of “elevating” other animals died with it. Life went back to normal and nobody cared about Iguana #2.
That changed when the attacks began. Three U.S. military bases were taken in a matter of minutes. Man-sized chameleons had snuck in and subdued the soldiers from behind their defenses. Iguana #2 was revealed to be behind the attacks when he declared himself Emperor of the world. Mankind resisted, and one by one, nations fell to the Reptile Empire until only small pockets of rebellion remained.
The Chameleons locked Charles up in the back of a large vehicle. He thought they would most likely take him to a prison camp in Old France. There, they would throw him in a cell where he would wait to be made an “example” by public execution. Emperor Iguana may have been more intelligent than humans, but he still pulled from the same playbook all other tyrants and despots used. He was shocked when he was pulled out and his surroundings were distinctly un-prisonlike.
He was led down a set of increasingly lavish hallways until he was pushed through a pair of oversized doors. On the other side was a huge, empty ballroom, with green, velvet curtains hanging from the walls on either side of him. At the other end of the room lay a large flat rock with a perfectly normal iguana basking in the glow of a heat lamp on top.
The shimmering air around him materialized into eight six foot tall chameleons, all standing on two legs. The chameleons bowed their heads toward the iguana.
“We have brought you Charles Larret, my lord,” the chameleon in front said without once lifting its head.
“Bring him forward,” said a black tower speaker beside the iguana.
Charles could do nothing but move forward as he processed what was in front of him. That was Emperor Iguana? He’d known that it hadn’t been altered at all physically. Still, it was unnerving to see an iguana just like any he could’ve seen at the zoo before this whole mess, giving orders.
They stopped him roughly ten feet from the rock. “You are Charles Larret?” the speaker asked.
Charles held his head high in defiance. “Yes,” he responded with all the venom he could muster. It was difficult to be defiant to a lizard.
“Good,” said the speaker with no visible reaction from the iguana. “I have a proposition for you Mr. Larret.” When Charles refused to answer he continued. “You are a very influential person among the human radicals. They trust you.” He paused slightly. “I want you to gather intel for me. Let me know their positions and their plans. You would be greatly rewarded for this, of course.”
Charles couldn’t believe what he was hearing. Emperor Iguana was offering him a job? “And what if I say no?”
There was no change in the iguana sitting in front of him. “Then you, and your family, will be killed, of course.”
He didn’t know whether it was the expressionless iguana, or the too calm computer voice, but he was pushed over the edge of rationality in that moment. “Go to hell!” he roared and charged the rock. He had almost made it when he felt a sharp pain in his back and lost control of his legs. He crumpled to the ground, almost in reach of the iguana.
“Shame,” that infuriatingly calm voice rang in his head. “He could have been useful.”
As he bled on the floor of that ballroom, he reflected on his disappointment that he would not be alive to see the downfall of Iguana #2.